Skill #8. Exploiting Aggression – P5: THE BULLY

There are players who have little-to-no respect for money—at least not for the usual amounts found on a 5-10 table. These players play too many hands pre-flop (often way too many), and when they miss, they’re perfectly willing to play their hands to the very end as if they hold the nuts. Indeed, putting the screws to more uptight opponents is one of their main delights.

The problem is these players will also play good hands like they have the nuts. So any time you enter a big pot with them, and they put in that huge river bet, it could go either way. You’ll rarely know for sure whether you should call.

Live reads sometimes help. But these players also have good live-read skills. They hide information better than many players, and they also pick up live reads better than you might expect.

The good news? These players are potentially some of the most profitable at a table. They’re willing to put lots of money into play, and their strategy is highly exploitable if you know what you’re doing.

The bad news? Many of the same skills that helped you succeed at 1-2 and 2-5 will work against you with these players. That’s why you’ll often hear your peers complaining. “You can’t read him, he could have anything,” they say.

This is another example of a situation where you should not play your opponents, but you should play the course. Many people find players like The Bully to be intimidating. But the

reality is that they are slaves to the math of the game just like everyone else. They don’t have any magic formula to win. Because their strategy is an uncommon one at lower stakes, you may not have the recipe to beat them at the ready. But they’re very beatable. Put their bluster out of your mind and focus on finding accurate counter-strategies to their plays.

Unfortunately, the details of how to build a complete counter- strategy to these wildly overaggressive players are far too complex for this chapter. If you want to win like you should against The Bully, it requires you do a bit of work to understand how hand ranges behave on different board textures. A great place to learn these concepts is in my book Poker’s 1%. This text presents a method to analyze hands away from the table that will help you develop your intuition for the strength of hand ranges given certain board textures. The ideas in Poker’s 1% are invaluable as you begin to tackle tougher, more aggressive games.

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